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August 9, 2023

ABA resolution adopts 14 principles set forth by ABA's Plea Bargain Task Force

As reported in this article, the ABA House of Delegates on Monday passed Resolution 502 to seek to improve plea bargaining practices:

Resolution 502 adopts 14 principles that were created by the Criminal Justice Section’s Plea Bargaining Task Force, which includes a diverse group of practioners, judges, law professors, and members of think tanks and advocacy organizations.  These principles are based on testimony from criminal justice experts and people impacted by plea bargaining as well as scholarly and legal reports and state and federal rules of criminal procedure.

In February, the Plea Bargaining Task Force published the 14 principles in a report to outline how plea bargaining should operate within the larger criminal justice system.

In introducing the resolution, Lucian Dervan, co-chair of the Plea Bargaining Task Force, noted that 98% of criminal cases in federal courts end with a plea bargain. While there are some benefits to pleas, he said there also are troubling elements, including a lack of oversight, an inability of courts to interpret the law and a lack of community involvement with the larger criminal justice system.

These 14 principles will help “create a path forward toward a more transparent, fair and just system of plea bargaining,” Dervan said. “It does this by encouraging an active docket of trials, by establishing principles to prevent coercive plea bargaining and by encouraging more transparency and data collection related to plea bargaining.”

Resolution 502 passed overwhelmingly.  According to its report, the ABA can now advance the principles through collaborations with other entities and by discussing pending legislation and filing amicus briefs related to plea bargaining.

August 9, 2023 at 12:33 AM | Permalink


I fully expected a typically absurd set of principles out of the ABA, but they were surprisingly unbad, other than principle 9 which was idiotic (keep someone in jail for months rather than cut a deal and get them out today? Brilliant.) and the last three which were likely some academic wish list.

Posted by: shg | Aug 9, 2023 9:53:06 AM

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